Google has introduced a series of video services called Google Helpouts™ that allow patients from around the world to have face-to-face time with medical experts. These Helpouts will allow medical professionals to reach patients in any part of the world, and provide assistance with a just a few mouse clicks. Although some initial concerns have risen over the Helpouts’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance, Google has made sure that these videos meet HIPAA regulations. Gearing the video service towards the healthcare industry has been the plan since initial launch, which was demonstrated through the program’s HIPAA compliancy.
Providers can access and help patients through the Helpouts video service without the worry of exposing PHI, or Protected Health Information, to potential security breaches through the internet. Google saw the new Helpouts as a way to service the health industry, which meant taking the time and legal expertise in making sure all HIPAA regulations were met. The goal was to provide affordable healthcare for all patients. If you can access the computer and the internet, it will be easier for you to seek the healthcare you need.
Google is still working with clinical care providers to assure that this is an opportunity that will benefit all parties involved. Many care providers have been reached out to, to participate in the initial launch of the video service. Those picked to participate will be offering services over a video chat, while patients will be charged $2 per minute. As part of Google’s guarantee, each medical professional will be checked for credentials prior to being allowed to participating in any Helpouts.
The videos themselves have caused concerns for many healthcare providers. Although telemedicine is not a new concept, the quality and security of the communication itself can be a concern. Even though the program is HIPAA compliant, Google Helpouts can be accessed on smart phones, which opens the Helpouts to additional risks of security breaches. Even though the Helpouts conversation itself may be secure, patients accessing the help through a smart phone could run into issues of the security of their own mobile device.
Google Helpouts will bring professional medical advice to patients who are unable to visit healthcare facilities due to debilitating conditions and illnesses, or those living in remote locations. Google Helpouts will benefit dietitians, counselors, and registered lactation support counselors.
Future programs planned for Helpouts include education, food, home, computers, electronics, art, music, fitness and nutrition.